No matter which way you look at the Seattle Sounders’ upcoming season, it is impossible to ignore the enormous changes around the organization that have already been made official. Considerably so, anytime there are significant losses and iconic names leave a club, there is always thick fog of uncertainty that looms over a team, which can only dissipate with exciting new signings and eventually with wins on the field.
That uncertainty could also be felt in the locker room. Players often question roster moves and although most understand some are still frustrating. When a group has been as successful for as long as the Sounders have been, changes can disturb those who remain.
What better way to begin tapping into how the reigning Western Conference Champions are taking the headlines generated over the off-season than discussing it with “El Capitan Esmeralda”, Nicolas Lodeiro. Sounder at Heart and Pulso Sports were able to get an unexpected off-season conversation with him to go over all things Sounders.
There is no bigger absence on the field, for at least the initial part of the 2021 season, than that of Jordan Morris who is currently on a six-month loan with Swansea City.
“To be honest, I have mixed feelings”, said Lodeiro as he pondered on how to candidly express his emotions. “But my first sensation and the one I like the most, is that of happiness. I feel proud that Jordan can take that leap to the next level, that maybe he’d been missing because he deserves it.”
It is more than apparent, that as a teammate Nico is excited for Morris’ new opportunity abroad.
“That’s soccer, you have to keep growing and you always want to keep improving,” he said. “So in that sense, I’m happy for Jordan being able to perhaps fulfill a dream. I’m not sure if it was his dream but certainly achieve an objective, he has always expressed a desire to play in Europe the times we’ve talked.”
Lodeiro is not only proud for Morris making strides to better his carrier, he is also certain the 26-year-old will succeed with Swansea City. Ever since his arrival in Seattle, Nico has worked closely with Jordan and immediately saw his potential. Now after five seasons playing by his side there are not many people that could give us a better insight on how well JoMo could do in a new league.
“Wingers there have lots of speed and strength, to me Jordan has those physical abilities,” stated Lodeiro as he jokingly added that perhaps he should not comment sense he has never played in Great Britain. Subsequently, Nicolas added that Morris’ best attributes went beyond what most see on the field.
“Jordan is always willing to learn, he is mentally focused on assimilating what you are trying to teach him,” Lodeiro said. “Even with my little experience (in MLS), anytime I gave him a tip or tried helping him, I felt that he would take it in and then put it to use on the field.”
On the other hand, as a leader of his team, Lodeiro understands that Jordan has been a fundamental player for this franchise and moving forward without their most dynamic winger will not be an easy task.
“My other sensation is the same everyone in Seattle and the Sounders are feeling, knowing we are losing a great player,” said Lodeiro as he began explaining the winger’s value.
“For the team, Jordan is a very important player on and off the field. For the city as well, he is the hometown kid, he is like a Sounders symbol. Therefore, looking at it from that end, you do feel sad because you don’t want to see a player like that go.”
Although Morris is clearly the most significant loss for Seattle, he is not the only constant contributor missing from last season’s roster; from Svensson’s relentlessness in the midfield, to Leerdam’s security as an experienced right back and one of the best in the league in his tenure with the team, Lodeiro knows the road ahead will not be easy.
“Whenever there are a lot of changes made, at times there is an adaptation period needed,” explained the Rave Green’s captain while revealing his concerns behind the modifications that are being made to a team which had an identity and chemistry built over the years.
“Anytime you remove pieces from a structure, the pieces brought in to replace them need time to adapt and it’s necessary that we fill the openings left by those whom have been so important for us. We are talking about Joevin Jones, Kelvin, Gustav who I believe is now gone, of course Morris and even Chris Henderson”.
That said, although Lodeiro is aware this season will have a difficult transition, he sounded confident in the front office acquiring new talent, restructuring this roster around the Sounders’ remaining core group and set them up to potentially conquer a third MLS Cup. As a matter of fact, the iconic Sounders No. 10 did not think twice before talking about his team as a contender in a 2021, where he hopes to once again win games with player on the stands.
With that in mind, although Nico did not say much in regard to the negotiations between the League and the MLS Player Association, he did say he hopes an agreement is reached sooner rather than later so training camps and preseasons are not delayed. He seems so determined to turn the page from last year’s loss in Columbus and help lead Seattle to another title that he can’t wait to be back at Starfire.